Technology

The Fantastic Five

5 Tools We Couldn't Live Without!

The Fantastic Five

As VBOs and Freelancers it is easy to get caught up in the “Shiny Object Syndrome” and spend a lot of time with apps and tools that don’t really make a lot of sense. Even though most are relatively cheap, when you add them all together it can really add up.

After 5 years of running a VBO business, these are my seven “go to tools”.  Essentially, these are tools I cannot live without.

Evernote

We live in an information age and Evernote is the tool that helps you keep track of notes, websites, articles, important emails and more.  Their plans currently range from FREE to $14.99 per month. I personally use the premium plan and it is awesome! Here are a couple things Evernote works great for:

Saving Websites – Evernote has a Chrome Plugin that works great for saving websites with ease.  Their tagging feature allows you to easily categorize the websites which makes it incredibly easy to find later

Templates – Evernote recently introduced pre-built templates that include everything from meeting notes to party planning.  They are absolutely beautiful and incredibly helpful

VBO Hack – Have you ever gone to a website and really wanted to read an article but couldn’t because of all the ads? How annoying can that be?  Put an end to that with Evernote’s “Simplified Article” option. Just click on that and Evernote automatically strips away all the bull shit and lets you focus on exactly what you want to read.

TechSmith – Snagit

I use Snagit so many times a day I cannot count.  Essentially it is a screenshot tool on steroids. If you take a look at the image above, I used Snagit to highlight and then add an arrow to the “Simplified Article” feature I use with Evernote.  Other uses of Snagit include

Instant Videos – If I have something I want to communicate to our team, I often just take a quick screen video using Snagit.  Hit one button, wait three seconds, and you are recording a video. This makes it much easier to explain things quickly without a bunch of typing.

Fixed Size Capture – You can set up Snagit to capture an exact size image.  We use this for creating banner ads (we have the 5 most used ad banner sizes), and for capturing the exact size image we use in our blogs.  These are only two examples.

Scrolling Capture – Have you ever wanted to save an entire webpage but couldn’t because most of it is under the fold (you need to scroll).  Snagit has a feature that lets you easily capture the entire webpage. Just get it started and it Snagit it will take it from there.

I think Snagit costs about $50.00.  Let me tell you, it will save you more time that you’ll ever know.  Give it a free trial – LOL, you’ll be thanking me!

UBER Conference

UBER conference is for setting up call bridges and doing screen shares.  I use it at least 10 times a day with remote team members and clients. Even the free version allows you to set up a unique URL for people to access.  Here are a couple of key points about UBER Conference:

No Plugins – UBER Conference requires no plugins.  If you are on a call with someone and want them to see what you are doing, just give them your URL.  Within seconds they are looking at your screen without having to download anything.

Chrome Plugin – UBER has an awesome Chrome Plugin that integrates with your Google Calendar.  When you are setting up a calendar invite just click on a button and your UBER credentials are immediately added.

UBER Conference is FREE.  I use it enough that I am happy to pay for the premium version.  The big difference for me is there is no password required with the premium version.  It just makes it that much quicker to get business done. Having said that, the FREE version rocks!

Toggl

If you need to track your time, check out Toggl.  Actually, even if you don’t need to track your time, check out Toggl.  Most of what I do is not “on the clock”. However, tracking how much time we spend on things is critical to being efficient.  It’s amazing at the end of the month to see how much time is wasted. LOL, I’m sure most of you are better than me, but I can get lost pretty easy when it comes to checking my email or visiting our group on Facebook.  Here are a few things to know about Toggl:

App vs. Desktop – Toggle has an app you can download free and a desktop version with a Chrome Plugin.  For me, the app on my iPhone works so well I don’t even want to use the desktop app. Personally, I think the desktop app is just a little clunky.

It’s FREE – Improving on your time can make or break a VBO/Freelancer.  Regardless of whether you charge for your time or not – this app will help keep you between the ditches when it comes to spending to much time doing stupid things (I’m guilty as charged).

SLACK

Our Team at VBO Nation uses SLACK all day, every day.  It is the glue that holds our virtual team together. All day long there are messages that come in from team members.  I can answer the questions in a flash and they don’t get lost in my email. If you work with a remote team and aren’t using SLACK you are doing yourself a disfavor.  I am not sure what our team would actually do without it. A few things to know about SLACK:

It’s FREE – I end up paying for the premium version of a lot of things, but with SLACK the FREE version just rocks.  There is more functionality with the premium version so please check it out, but for us FREE is fine.

Mobile and Desktop – Both the mobile and desktop version of SLACK work equally good.  I spend a lot of my time in front of my computer so I definitely use that more.

SLACK is so easy to use you’ll never have to convince your team to embrace it.  Just invite them with an email and you are off to the races!

Well, there you go.  There are 100’s of great tools for VBO/Freelancers.  Personally, I could not operate a day without these five.  I’m pretty sure the only one you have to actually pay for is Snagit – and it is worth its weight in gold.

We are in the process of creating an entire directory of tools for VBOs.  There will be 100’s of different tools to make your life easier – but these are my teams five “go-to” cannot live without tools.

Have a great day and thanks for checking in!

Tom Poole
Fellow Freelancer

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